Q: When?
A: December 1st through December 31st from 6:00pm to 9:00pm (10:00 fri & sat).
Halloween has the same hours but the begins around Oct 15th and ends on the 31st.

Q: Why?
A: As a kid I remember my parents driving us around to look at the Christmas lights. We would start in early December counting the houses with lights and as the season progressed we switched to counting those without because they were harder to find. Fast forward and there are fewer and fewer homes that put up lights. Whether it is a lack of interest or a rejection of the commercialization of the season I don't know, but I'm doing my little part to reverse the trend.

It started with a challenge from a neighbor up the street, for Halloween of all things. His idea was to have a pot luck for Halloween (2011) at one of the neighborhood houses and really decorate that house up well. I already had pumpkins hanging 6 - 10 feet off the ground, and he challenged me to do better. I had been looking at setting lights to music for a while and decided what the heck and went for it.

Not to be selfish but truthfully I do this because I like it, I also suppose at some level there is a perverse thrill that comes with playing with electricity without killing oneself.

Q: How?
A: In short, time, Light-O-Rama (LOR) lighting controllers, time, lots of extension cords, and time. LOR makes the hardware and software that controls the lights. The controllers plug into a computer which sends the commands and plays the music. Each controller has 16 outlets for lights called channels, you can then turn on, off, flash, twinkle, and dim each channel separately. The more channels you have the more individual sets of lights you can control. The software helps you do this to the music you choose. You listen to the song and decide what you want the lights to do and fill in the grid with the sequence of commands. Strangely enough its called sequencing. It takes several hours to sequence each minute of the song, so you could say that I play with Christmas lights all year long.

Q: How many lights?
A: 2010: about 3,000 and 48 channels

2011: 5,000 lights on 48 channels

2012: 8,550 on 112 channels. We built on from last year, swapping out the ten 2 foot white trees on the lawn with ten 3 foot trees. We upgraded to true professional waterproof LEDs and went to 3 colors (white, green & red) in most places so we can change the color of the yard to suit the mood of the song. We added lights to the walkway (with help from our good friends the Ohlsens), and some strobes and dripping icicle lights too!

2013: 6,970 LEDs on 160 channels and 200 Pixels. This year the eve lights were replaced by Cosmic Color Bulbs™ the name says it all, since these pixels can be any of 16 million colors independent of the others. During setup we discovered that the red and green rope light mega tree that hangs over the garage had several burned out sections, so we replaced each strand of rope light with 3 strings of LED lights, one Red, one Green & one white. The total light count is shrinking as we replace several strings of standard LEDs with a single RGB (Red,Green,Blue) strand of pixels. Since each pixel can individually be one of 16 million colors the display is more flexible and more colorful.

2013: 4,570 LEDs, 160 channels, and 800 pixels. The mega received a complete make over. The tree grew form 11 to 15 feet and the 8 strands of 100 LEDs each of red, green and white were replaced by 12 strands of pixels, similar to the ones that the eves got in 2012. Now that the tree is made of pixels, with each of the 600 bulbs individually being any of 16 million colors, we think you'll agree that we can do some amazing things with it.

2014: Were up to 6,970 lights, 160 channels and 1,140 pixels. Halloween's spider web got the same makeover as the mega tree received in 1013. We added 4 RGB arches as well.

2015: We spent much of 2015 recovering form 2014. Unfortunately the RGB lights for the mega tree suffered from several manufacturing defects ranging from chips barely rated to handle 12v to not being water proof. Fortunately the manufacturer stood behind his product and sent a complete set of replacements. 2015 was spent rebuilding the mega tree and arches. We added a fan, which consisted of the upper half of the Halloween spider web to the Christmas display.
We also added 3 houses across the street to the show, using equipment that had been replaced with our new RGB controllers. Two of the housed belong to a couple of great neighbors who come out to help with setup and take down every year. We couldn't leave the house between them undecorated and dark, so we offered to decorate that house too, and thankfully they accepted.

2016: Who knows what will happen this year. I'd like to rewire the snowflake, light up one of the real trees trunk branches and all, or turn the walkway into the golden gate bridge.